Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2017

Chicago March for Science

Today, Earth Day, I went down to Grant Park to join the estimated 40,000 people who showed up for the March for Science.

And there were stars. Beaker!

Many of the signs were equally clever. Some of them were pretty obviously political:
Make America THINK again.Science is what makes America great.I've seen smarter cabinets at IKEA.Less invasions, more equations.Einstein was a refugee.You can't repeal and replace the laws of physics.Trump's team are like atoms - they make up everything.Don't frack with science.Twitler (Trump with Hitler mustache)Facts matter.Defiance for science.We're not resisters. We're transformers. Others were more about Earth Day:
I'm with her (image of the globe). (Although come to think of it, that's political, too!)Keep the earth clean. It's not Uranus.May the forest be with you.Love yo mama (image of Earth).
Still others were just funny:
I don't think you understand the gravity of the situation. (next to an image of Isaac Ne…

Appreciative inquiry and planning

I'm just returning from the Texas Library Association, where I presented first with Marci Merola (director of ALA's Office for Library Advocacy) for our Intellectual Freedom and Advocacy Bootcamp, then with Kristin Pekoll (my assistant director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom) on intellectual freedom resources.

I also had a chance to attend former ALA President Maureen Sullivan's session on Appreciative Inquiry and strategic planning. Maureen was great as always: clear, insightful, and representing some of the current best thinking about managerial leadership. Many of us have used the SWOT exercise (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). But there's something better: SOAR. That stands for:
Strengths: what works today? What is the best of what is? As Maureen said, even in difficult times, there's always something that's going right.Opportunities: Where are the possibilities not now being pursued?Aspiration: What are our hopes and dreams? What &qu…

Intellectual Freedom in Libraries and Museums

On Friday, March 17, I presented with Svetlana Mintcheva of the National Coalition Against Censorship on the topic of Intellectual freedom and museums. Bradley Taylor, a professor of museology for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, has long believed that the value of intellectual freedom has never quite been articulated in the museum world, although it is needed. He held this workshop to start to change that.
Professor Taylor visited me last year to ask me to address what librarians have learned about how to embed this value in a profession. I did some thinking about that, and concluded that there were several steps along the way.
A sign of the times
For the first 60-odd years of American librarianship, our motto was "the best reading for the greatest number at the least cost:" a prescriptive stance that favored serious and canonical reading, mostly non-fiction. But in 1938, amidst a rising tide of anti-immigrant and anti-ethnic fervor, Forrest Spaulding of the Des Moin…

We wanna be like Russia? Really?

The older I get, the more I think there are basically two kinds of people: builders and destroyers. Between these two, maybe, are those who appreciate things, and those who mostly ignore things. But over the years I've come to group the former with builders, and the latter with destroyers.

"I'm a Leninist," said Steven Bannon in 2013. "Lenin wanted to destroy the state. And that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."

I wish I could say that I thought this was hyperbole or posturing. I don't. I believe him. For Baby Boomers, destroying institutions is what we do. Is there conflict between personal and institutional values? Well, one of us must change! Guess who?

It doesn't take much work to trace Bannon's predilections at Breitbart, and in his still early days as chief strategist for Trump. And there's Trump himself, in a bizarre bro-mance with Putin.

The question we need t…

A Day in Chicago

The King of Chicago Today I walked past a store that sparked a memory.

Almost a year ago, I had to buy a mop. I was trekking my way back from a Target, and stopped inside a storefront restaurant for some really wonderful and inexpensive middle eastern food. 

"What's with the stick?" asked the man serving me. "You mean my scepter?" I asked. "For I am the King of Chicago." He smiled, handing me my order. "Your majesty." I realize now that I should have knighted him. 

BlogAfter the midwinter conference in Atlanta, I wrote a blog about the Trump administration's attempt to halt all "public facing communications" by federal agencies, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency. I posted it yesterday. To my surprise, the post has gone almost viral - some 20,000 reposts on Facebook and Twitter. My takeaway: librarians are feisty, and not to be trifled with. This administration may find that its arrogance breeds resistance.
HaikuI wa…